Making Self-Portraits for the Cover of a Community Newspaper in Art Class

Making Self-Portraits for the Cover of a Community Newspaper in Art Class
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Conceptual Basis:

Students will produce a self-portrait for the cover of a community newspaper. Through this portraiture, students will use the concepts of highlighting and shading in order to create a work that gives an illusion of depth.

Relation to the Series:

This is the 3rd part in a series of Community Lesson Plans. This lesson reiterates vocabulary and ideas learned in lessons one and two as well as introducing the idea of self-contribution, self- portraiture, and the concepts of shading and highlighting.

Art Materials:

  • Heavy weight, white, drawing paper
  • white paper shaped like a folded newspaper
  • black construction paper
  • oil pastels
  • mirrors (enough for one per student)
  • glue
  • pencils

Other Resources:

newspaper clippings, self-portraits done by artists and a pre-lesson worksheet. (See photo section) Artists include: VanGogh, Picasso, and Chagall.


self-portraiture: a picture/drawing/photograph done of a person by that person

proportion: an equality between items/ratios

awareness: paying attention to

layout: arrangement or display of items

shading: to darken, absence of light

highlight: to add light


Students will be given a worksheet to fill out before beginning lesson. The worksheet (see photos section) enables students to use the skills they already have regarding to portraiture and drawing, as a warm up in a fun way. The teacher holds up the worksheets to explain what they are going to do. On the top two rows the students will fill in the missing parts of the faces. In some cases it is hair, in others it is facial features. When they reach the last two rows, they have to look in the mirror at themselves before filling in the missing parts which may be mouth, eyes or ears among others. “Pay attention to detail. Who can tell me what detail means?” The teacher listens to student responses and guides them toward the right answer if they are not getting there themselves. The teacher asks if there are any questions and answers, then passes out worksheets to students.


Once the motivational activity has concluded. The teacher talks about the studio activity. “Today we are going to make self-portraits. Can anyone tell me what a self-portrait is?” The teacher calls on several students and then gives a definition. Then explains:

“We are going to imagine that we have just done something wonderful for the community. Do you remember how we talked about different positive characteristics of community members? Well I want you to imagine that you did something really good to help someone or something. Since you did this wonderful act, the community wants to reward you by putting your picture on the front page of the newspaper.”

Student Learning Activity:

The teacher shows examples of real newspapers with headlines and pictures and explains how their self-portraits will be the photo part of the newspaper and the good deed, the headline. Students are also shown examples of artist’s self-portraits. The teacher goes over the concepts of shading and highlighting, referring to the artist exemplars and the students faces.“Just like your worksheets where you had to look in the mirror to complete the faces, it is important that you look in the mirror and pay attention to detail.

As the teacher checks with every student, she/he asks them what good deed they have chosen and ensures that students are really looking in the mirror and reminds them about including shading and highlighting. Praise is given to the good jobs they are doing as well as some criticism. “You are doing an excellent job on those eyes. You might want to look in the mirror again at your nose though. Think about what shape it makes.”

Culminating Activity:

When they are done with their portraits, the teacher uses spray adhesive or students glue the back and they are put onto black paper. Students then glue this black paper onto the white paper which is newspaper shaped. As long as there is time, the students are able to work on the layout aspect of placing their picture onto the paper, writing the headline and choosing a color scheme.

Resources & 1st Grade Student Samples

Sample Portrait

Sample Paper

This post is part of the series: My Community

The idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is an important concept in history and the world. Through numerous lessons students will produce artwork expressing their individuality as well as specific information about their community and where they fit in.

  1. A Role Playing Lesson on Community Helpers
  2. An Art Lesson to Recognize Our Community Members
  3. Self-Portrait for the Cover of a Community Paper: Lesson & Art Project
  4. Create Community Postcards: Elementary Art Activity
  5. Making a Classroom Flag